Senegal: 26 innocent people including Both ENDS' partner arrested in Senegal
Update October 27th:
Today our friends have been released after five nights in detention. We welcome this great news and we are happy and relieved that Babacar Diouf and the others who were arrested will soon be back with their loved ones.
Nonetheless this was a very bad signal from Senegalese authorities and police and an indication of the growing restriction on civic space in Senegal. It is unacceptable that freedom of expression is restricted, people should not have to go to jail for peacefully expressing their opinion - especially when their livelihood is at stake.
Original article published on October 26th:
We are outraged that on October 22nd Babacar Diouf, programme officer of Senegalese organisation Lumière Synergie pour Développement (LSD), long time partner of Both ENDS, along with 25 members of the 'Collective of community members impacted by the Regional Express Train project' was arrested by the Dakar police.
The group was arrested at the house of one of the members of the Collective, allegedly because they were preparing a peaceful protest to express their concerns around the controversial train project (TER) - the flagship project of the "Emerging Senegal Plan" – and to demand their right to fair compensation. The group is still in custody, on charges of 'public disorder'.
Public finance means great responsibility
The billion dollar Express Train, which entered in operation in 2021, is financed by a group of national and international (development) banks, such as the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the French development agency (AFD). Public development banks and institutions such as the AFD and the AfDB, have specific commitments and responsibilities to ensure the project does not harm the supposed beneficiaries, and that the local communities can safely participate and express their concerns around the projects they fund.
People harrassed and displaced, property destroyed
Unfortunately, those commitments are far from being fulfilled. The first section of the railroad of 36 km has affected around 15.000 people. These communities are displaced by the project, involuntarily resettled, their property has been destroyed and they have been harrassed. Moreover, they have never been consulted and are still waiting to receive fair compensation. The second part of the railroad, yet to be built, is going to have an equally problematic impact.
In 2019 the (to be) affected communities, united in the 'Collective of community members impacted by the Regional Express Train project', with the support of LSD and Both ENDS, submitted a complaint to the AfDB and the AFD.
This new low - the arrest of innocent men and women - unfortunately shows that the human rights situation in Senegal is rapidly deteriorating. Both ENDS will do whatever is in our power to get justice for these civilians and will of course keep supporting LSD to get justice for the people affected by the railroad.
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